I began 2017 at a New Year’s Eve Billy Joel concert with family and friends, and when he played his song “Vienna” my sister and I turned to each other and sang very loudly because we knew it from one of our favorite movies growing up, 13 Going On 30. Less than three months later I am in Vienna listening to that song on repeat realizing just how appropriate it is for my life and missing my family.
My trip to Vienna was a whirlwind that mostly included castles and eating. My first day I visited Schonbrunn Palace. Apparently I did not pay enough attention in World History class because this place blew my mind. It was home to the royal family of the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy. Maria Theresa was essentially the lady boss of the Habsburg Empire and I got to see her bedroom so that was a wake-up call to the history of the country I was in. I got to view their jewels at the Hofburg Palace and left with my jaw still on the floor. Somebody please offer me a monarchy ASAP.
The next day I had the most interesting human interaction of my trip. I was sitting at a cafe in the Naschmarket, a strip market full of goods and restaurants in the cultural heart of Vienna, and it was sunny and I was enjoying the best friend chicken I have had in a long time. A homeless man started coming up to the tables that were outside asking for money, he was calm and people were refusing. He was coming closer so I was ready to smile and pleasantly decline because I had no coins. But when he got to my table something inside him switched. Next thing I know he is yelling and waving and saying the word “princesa” more times than comfortable and starting to make a scene. He then forcefully grabbed my arm and hand and pulled it to his mouth and kissed my hand. I quickly realized, this guy was stronger than he looked. He started to try and hug me and try to get down on one knee all while trying to touch my hair. Know this about me, if I’m alone and in an uncomfy position, my reflex is to laugh it off, which the worst thing that I could do in this situation is smile making this man think I’m enjoying his attention. I looked into the cafe to see if someone was going to intervene and everyone was staring. While looking at them I noticed something. I was the only blonde in the entire vicinity, and it was sunny out, so I was very vibrantly blonde. Finally I was left alone quite shook up and still comically surprised at what just happened, and immediately wanted to go buy hair dye.
Next was the Belvedere Palace, and while crossing the garden to get to the entrance I witnessed a proposal, complete with a mariachi band mind you, so I began to feel my day turn around. (Side note: Family, friends, NEVER let my potential fiance use a mariachi band, it will be a hard pass on my side, think of my eternal happiness, deny the mariachi idea.) The castle was filled with all different types of paintings and it made me think of my grandmother, this specific museum I think she would enjoy. I walked into the room where the volume was significantly elevated from the rest of the palace and I saw it, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. For those who don’t know it is an extremely famous and big painting that is known for its passion and cameo in one very unsuccessful Reese Witherspoon movie “This Means War” (which was definitely redeemed by Tom Hardy’s jawline throughout). This painting actually brought me to tears the longer I looked at it. Not only was it metallic and literally reflecting light but the personality in each of the figures was so blatant and the embrace had the perfect artistic representation of true passion. After that experience I was in a cultural mood, and went on to see a classical performance by a violin trio at the Musikverein Wien, a very famous concert house downtown. I donned my red lipstick and sat next to a man probably over 80 years old and we enjoyed the night together. At one point the composer of the music they were playing was in the audience and actually came out to congratulate them. How cool is that.
Before my next train the last morning in Vienna I went to the famous Cafe Central and found the best scrambled eggs with bacon. All hail breakfast food. Don’t get me wrong, I truly do love and even like myself, and it has taken me a long time to get there, but I thought it was time for some human interaction, so I headed for Prague…..